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Alternative Body Materials


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I have an open question to all experienced luthiers out there.

Has anyone ever tried, or heard of someone trying, alternative materials to build a solid body guitar out of? Examples might some kind of resin, or polycarbonate/fiberglass, or even brass or aluminum...

Now before anyone flames me for a bad question, think for a minute...who thought that a couple of magnets and coiled wire would make a such a great addition to the world of guitar music?

Well folks, hit me with what you got!

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lots has been done with graphite including the old bond guitars, parker fly's, moses graphite and gus guitars to name a few

fender has done quite a few aluminium strats - i believe there was even a very heavy solid brass one once

the world is your lobster!!

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Some old Airline and National brand guitars where made out some sort of Fibreglass composite. I believe they called it "Resoglass" or some such trade name.

Dan Armstrong model guitars and basses produced through Ampeg where made with bodies of lexan or some form of acrylic plastic.

Danelectro has been making guitars with cheap wood cores and masonite (or somethingl like that) top and bottom faces for a long while now.

And there's plenty of guitars made out of plywood.

I think wood ends up being used for economic costs as much as anything, at least by the major manufacturers.

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The metal body resonator guitars?

There is a french guy (I cant seem to remember his name) that make Teles, Strats and flat top LPs with bodies out of sheet metal.

And Ibanez made a series of guitar from what they called resoncast (or something similar) that was more or less chip board.

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The sky's the limit with regard to non-traditional guitar building materials. Here is what I've seen:

Metals:

Steel tubing, ala this or this.

I've seen a couple hollow Telecasters welded together out of steel plate. Also, a member here built a semi-hollow with a wood core sheathed in aluminum. Very cool looking guitar, but I can't seem to find it now. There's the Birdfish, too. Another member here posted a guitar he had machined out of solid aluminum billet. It was one piece, but had a bunch of holes in it for weight savings. Can't seem to find that one now, either, but I bet someone around here can.

Other interesting uses of metals would be 80's Kramers with aluminum necks. I think I've seen an aluminum fretboard on a Viger, too.

Those are just a few examples. I've actually seen a number of interesting guitars using metals.

Composites/Plastics:

So many choices here I don't even know where to start. There's phenolic fretboards (also called ebanol, garolite, micarta, etc.), used by Cort, Parker, Knuckle, and lots of others. Phenolic can also be used for neck stringers, headstock plates, and other accent pieces.

Carbon fiber is all over the place. Status might be the best example. BassLab uses some sort of carbon fiber process, too, but I couldn't tell you the details.

There are some acrylic/Lucite guitars around. The Dan Armstrong guitar is possibly the most famous. B.C. Rich has made a number of acrylic guitars in various translucent colors. I've even seen a couple DIY clear guitars.

Other stuff: a few manufacturers have used luthite. Don't know what it is. Some sort of cast resin, I think. The two examples that come to mind first are the Cort Curbow and the Ibanez Ergodyne series (my favorite of which is the EDA-900).

Anyway, that's just the beginning. It's a big, wide world.

EDIT: Forgot to mention stone. Check this out: http://www.jemsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58720

Edited by fookgub
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I like that story John Suhr told about how he went to a recording studio while Ed Van Halen was recording there. Before he could see Ed, he could certainly hear Ed playing and it was classic Eddie tone. You would just take it for granted that when you did finally see Eddie playing there, he'd be playing his typical Kramer or Ernie Ball/ Peavey (not sure what year this was). Well, John finally sees Eddie playing and is quite surprised to see Eddie's using an all non-wood Steinberger guitar.

The main thing is to stop thinking all the makers using the "official tone woods" are such freakin' geniuses, because they really are not, and it's always easiest to play "follow the leader".

I hear guitars everyday made of all the desirable tone woods, that sound like crap. I don't mean all the guitars I hear sound like crap, but plenty of them do.

And yeah, you are likely to get flamed for bringing up this kind of stuff, because so many will go nuts defending what *they* think makes the best tone. All kinds of damn tones.

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I have yet to play one but switch makes a vibrocell foam guitars http://www.switchmusic.com/

I thought it would be cool to create a mold, fill it with expanding insulator foam, then vacuum bag some carbon graphite cloth + epoxy to it, bake it, and have fun. However everyone else had the same idea....

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I have yet to play one but switch makes a vibrocell foam guitars http://www.switchmusic.com/

I thought it would be cool to create a mold, fill it with expanding insulator foam, then vacuum bag some carbon graphite cloth + epoxy to it, bake it, and have fun. However everyone else had the same idea....

I've played them. Good tone, don't like the bridges though. Really cool paint too!

I used to make them out of acrylic. Danelectro made some out of masonite too! Rather saught after too.

Edited by zyonsdream
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